(Reuters) – Detroit police called for an end to a citywide paintball war they say has led to six arrests in a supposed campaign against gun violence that has spread to other U.S. cities.
The so-called “paintballs up, guns down” wars have also popped up in Atlanta and Greensboro, North Carolina, with organizers touting them as a way to halt gun violence.
Among the six arrested in Detroit’s paintball war was a 22-year-old man accused of spraying a police commander’s unmarked car on Wednesday night during a battle involving about 50 people, CBS News reported.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig urged people at a news conference on Friday not to get involved, saying the paintball campaigns were misguided even if well-intentioned.
“If you want to work with us to stop the violence, there are a number of things we can work on together,” he said. “But having paintball wars across the city is not the way to do it.”
The Detroit police department had received 95 complaints about paintball weapons and shootings that had strained its capacities, Davis said. “The big concern I have is what if someone mistakes that replica paint ball gun for a real weapon. They look like a real weapon, especially from a distance.”
In November 2014, police in Cleveland, Ohio shot dead 12-year-old Tamir Rice after a 911 caller reported a man with a gun in a park. It turned out that Rice was holding a toy gun.
Police in Greensboro said on Friday a local paintball war may have led to the shooting death of a 19-year-old man on April 20, local media reported. In Atlanta, local rapper 21 Savage has encouraged residents to engage in paintball wars instead of using real weapons, a local CBS affiliate reported.
Atlanta police seized about 7,500 paintballs and arrested four people on April 2 after a paintball battle damaged property, the department said on Facebook.
Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Mark Heinrich